Lynyrd Skynyrd Rolls Into New Jersey
and Celebrates 40 Years of Music at the bergenPAC
A Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

The South stormed northward into the Garden State with a celebratory concert as southern rock veterans Lynyrd Skynyrd brought their high-energy road show to the bergenPAC in Englewood, New Jersey on August 14, 2013.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Celebrates 40 Years of Music at the bergenPAC
The legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd put on a high-power hit parade at the bergenPAC.

The band Lynyrd Skynyrd is about musical passion and perseverance. The group since their founding has weathered many trials and triumphs. Lynyrd Skynyrd is strongly rooted in the traditions of southern rock yet has a signature sound with a trio of guitars giving their songs an extra edge.

Lynyrd Skynyrd's career soared in the 1970's with anthems such as " Sweet Home Alabama " and "Free Bird". Then in 1977, a tragic plane crash claimed two band mates. It would be years before new and surviving members would re-group. Since then there have been more changes and losses but the legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd is still flying high in 2013.

In the summer of 2012, Lynyrd Skynyrd released Last of a Dyin' Breed, which showcased the classic and contemporary Skynyrd sounds. The 15-track CD has the swagger of three guitars and "more hooks than a tackle box". Last of a Dyin' Breed builds on the power of their previous album God & Guns (2009). Although, Lynyrd Skynyrd is touring in support of their latest record the show in Englewood was packed with Gold & Platinum.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Celebrates 40 Years of Music at the bergenPAC
Scenes from the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in Englewood, New Jersey.

As the band came out vintage and venerable album covers flashed on the big screen over the stage. Throughout the concert it was used to add visual effects to a vibrant presentation of Skynyrd's classics. Fans were on their feet as they started with "Call Me The Breeze" that moved briskly on blazing guitars and harmonizing vocals.

"God Bless You," proclaimed singer Johnny Van Zant as they flowed into a winsome "What's Your Name" and a bold "Gimme Back My Bullets". Throughout the show Johnny was encouraging the crowd to make some noise and he pointed his mike out into the audience to make sure we helped with "That Smell".

"Good to be back in your neck of the woods," declared Van Zant as he mentioned that they were celebrating 40 years and he was glad to see three generations of Skynyrd Nation in the audience stating "you're never too young or old to rock and roll". They continued in high gear with a rousing "You Got That Right" and a sizzling "Saturday Night Special".

Lynyrd Skynyrd are well seasoned, their presentation of the hits was polished. Although they must have played these songs hundreds of times they brought plenty of energy and enthusiasm to the music making it a point to engage the audience. They were aware that this concert could be a first for the next generation and Skynyrd aimed to please. Also, the sound was well mixed so that you could still hear the keyboards even though there was an arsenal of axes propelling the music.

"We are big supporters of our troops and their families," stated Johnny as he asked the audience to sing the next song "loud for our troops no matter where they are". Stars, military symbols and blue lights were used to enhance the mood of the moving "Simple Man".

With images of trains Skynyrd kept the fan favorites rolling with "Tuesday's Gone". The majority of the songs played on Wednesday night were true to form with additional solos melded into the mixes. The rebel flag was waved and southern symbolism was shown as they rocked on "Gimme Three Steps" and closed with a spirited " Sweet Home Alabama ".

Piano patterns were heard blending with the sound of birds before that distinct guitar lead of "Free Bird" soared to the top of the mix. The anthem was powerful and Lynyrd Skynyrd played it pretty for New Jersey as they finished their celebration of the classics on a very high note.

Everything about the bergenPAC Skynyrd show was enjoyable including the opening act The Vegabonds. They are a six-piece southern rock and roll band with a hard rock edge that got us thinking of The Black Crows meets Led Zeppelin. The group lists The Delta Saints, The Allmans and King of Leon as some of their influences.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Celebrates 40 Years of Music at the bergenPAC
The Lynyrd Skynyrd road show rolls on with Last of a Dyin' Breed.

The Vegabonds' set was filled with high octane songs propelled by two guitars, a solid rhythm team and engaging hooks - a prime example being the rocking "Resolution". The song had swagger and solid guitar solos. "Shaky Hands" was one of their softer tunes where the piano was more pronounced with fine fret work flowing throughout the piece. The Vegabonds were skillful with a strong stage presence and it will be interesting to see how far this young band goes.

The bergenPAC continues to host a wide range of acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd. It is located in the heart of Englewood, New Jersey and it is in close proximity to restaurants and shopping. Upcoming concerts at the bergenPAC include The Village People, Cheap Trick, Ring of Fire, The Rides, Kix, Hinder & Candlebox, The Waterboys, Neil Berg's 100 Years of Broadway, Lisa Marie Presley, Diana Krall and Styx .

Lynyrd Skynyrd 2013: Gary Rossington - Guitar; Johnny Van Zant - Vocals; Rickey Medlocke - Guitar; Mark "Sparky" Matejka - Guitar; Michael Cartellone - Drums; Robert Kearns - Bass; Peter "Keys" Pisarczyk - Keyboards; Honkettes: Dale Krantz Rossington - Backing Vocals; Carol Chase - Backing Vocals

Lynyrd Skynyrd Celebrates 40 Years of Music at the bergenPAC
The Vegabonds were a tasty opener that merged blues-based classic rock with southern stylings.

Related Links: For more information on LYNYRD SKYNYRD and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Lynyrd Skynyrd | The Vegabonds | bergenPAC

(Originally Published on August 16, 2013)




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